Daily News story changes lives

HARARE - The heart-rending story by the Daily News a few days after the country commemorated 33 years of Independence has changed the life of 81-year-old Robert Siwa.

Siwa lives with his wife Aquinata, 10 years younger, in the run-down settlement of Caledonia but disparagingly referred to as kwaBhobho (Bob’s) some 20km on the outskirts of Zimbabwe’s capital.

In the April 23 story titled, “Dream deferred; 33 years of ramshackle life haunts citizens,” the Daily News highlighted the wretched life Zimbabweans are living decades after the attainment of majority rule while the country’s political leadership swims in opulence.

A Good Samaritan then offered to provide food “every month from now” to Siwa.

“In any society old people are a treasure. They reflect how we look at ourselves and Zimbabwe should not be an exception. My heart bleeds because there are millions in Siwa’s situation.

“Our leadership needs to do some self-introspection and see if they have any right to be where they are,” the Good Samaritan said.

“If they had provided electricity, jobs, food and maintained infrastructure there would never have been any need to force people into voting for them as happened in 2008,” the benefactor who chose to remain anonymous said.

Siwa and his wife were over the moon.

“My Jesus and your Jesus have brought us together. Thank you very much and may you continue to be blessed. To the Daily News thank you for letting the world know of our predicament,” said a tearful Siwa in fluent English.

“Continue with this good job. There are a lot more in my situation.”

Siwa’s new-found friend, besides providing a food hamper, bought the aging couple a gel stove.

“They do not need to walk five kilometres for firewood anymore. I am not a rich man but I can spare from the little I have for their upkeep,” he said.

Aquinata said she was most elated by the stove.

“It is difficult as a woman for me to make fire outside particularly when it is raining. The stove will make life a lot easier for me,” she said.

Siwa though still has to live in his grass and mud hut.

“It is terrible during the rainy season and on one of these dreadful days the roof was taken off by wind and we slept in the open. In pouring rain my son,” said Siwa.

The bustling settlement has no water, no access to roads and no sewer lines let alone electricity.

Before this intervention Siwa who for years has lived on a meagre social security stipend of $40 had resigned his life to fate, but seemed to find a new lease of life.

“Maybe I can live longer. I like my tea and now I can have it,” he said as he waved goodbye struggling to contain his joy.

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